The Power of Retargeting and Re-engagement in QSR Hiring

The Power of Retargeting and Re-engagement in QSR Hiring

After candidates visit an employer’s career page, engage with its brand, and, hopefully, apply, the applicant journey isn’t over. Quick service restaurants (QSRs) can also engage others in their talent pool: those who have either visited the company site, started an application, or completed an application without being hired.

In a tough hiring environment that has been particularly challenging for QSR employers, retargeting and re-engagement are two effective recruitment strategies for fully leveraging existing talent pools and attracting more applicants. Especially if given the opportunity to choose between a candidate who has not expressed interest in the company versus someone who has shown their interest, which individual would be preferred for engagement? This is where retargeting and re-engagement strategies can be beneficial.


A Challenging QSR Hiring Landscape

Hiring for quick service restaurants faces multiple headwinds, making it even more difficult for employers to attract and retain talent. The need to hire at high volumes, often across multiple geographies, coupled with high turnover and a dwindling talent supply, has created a challenging environment for QSR recruitment professionals. 

Perhaps the most critical hiring challenge for QSR employers is finding enough talent to take roles ranging from cashiers and dishwashers to cooks and servers. According to the 2023 State of the Restaurant Industry report by the National Restaurant Association, there is only one unemployed person for every two open restaurant positions, the lowest ever. The report also revealed that 62% of surveyed restaurant owners said they spent all of 2022 understaffed – leading companies to change their business hours, go short-staffed, or even only leave the drive-thru open due to this. 

Even when restaurant owners can find talent, they may not be able to hire quickly enough to overcome the persistent turnover problem. Turnover has been consistently high in the industry, reaching nearly 60 percent, depending on the position and location. While the pandemic saw a record number of restaurant workers quit their jobs – the highest rate in over 20 years, turnover remains a problem even after customers have returned to indoor restaurant dining. A 2022 HourWork survey found that only 54 percent of QSR employees reached 90 days of work before quitting their job that year.

For QSR employers struggling to find and keep talent, it’s critical to build a recruitment strategy that attracts talent along every stage of the applicant journey, including at the earliest stages of awareness. Remember, every restaurant is hiring, and all of these companies are competing for the same talent pool. To gain more interest and applications, employers can use re-engagement and retargeting strategies to leverage the pool of candidates who have either applied or shown some interest without completing an application.

restaurant recruitment


Re-engagement Tips for Hiring QSR Employees

Whether hiring for a regional chain of restaurants or a national brand with thousands of locations, QSR talent acquisition teams have built an extensive pool of applicants over time. Having a strong applicant re-engagement strategy enables these teams to communicate with past applicants and encourage them to apply again.

Re-engaging former applicants offers several benefits for employers. First, these individuals are already familiar with the brand and may already be attracted to its employee value proposition (EVP). Since something motivated them to apply once, they may do so again. Though some may have moved on to other opportunities, in a few months, they may be looking for a new position that aligns with the culture and benefits they’re seeking – with only 54% of QSR employees reaching 90 days of working before quitting.

Tip: A strong employer value proposition helps candidates see what an employer offers and how working there really looks. Recruitics’ EVP service helps employers articulate their brand identity and share it with candidates across multiple channels.

Candidate re-engagement is also more cost-effective for employers than advertising to net new candidates. Since previous applicants are already in the applicant tracking system, there’s almost no cost to communicate with them. 

Tip: Ensure the talent acquisition team uses the technology they already have to make these candidates easy to identify. For example, digging into the ATS is a great place to start.

Re-engaging past applicants or past employees (think college students returning home for the summer break or holidays) works best when employers take an omnichannel approach that leverages video, email, text, and phone calls to nurture talent and give gentle reminders. For example, employers can create messaging campaigns that share open positions and provide information about company culture, benefits, and other perks.

With a big shift in QSR restaurants due to the pandemic, many companies have pivoted their benefits or work practices to meet the demands of the customers, the employees, and the candidates. For example, some companies have gone to drive-thru only, or shifted a focus to pay transparency. Hiring professionals need to ensure they are showcasing all the changes the company is making, which helps them align with the talent they’re seeking and remain competitive.

This is a great opportunity to use “drip campaigns” or messaging that is intended as gentle reminders to keep these audiences warm, and an opportunity to mix in more direct messaging such as “We are still hiring” or “Come explore what’s new.” This is also a great strategy to use when paired with a comprehensive recruitment process, since re-engagement can help fill the funnel and push candidates through to the end. 

Tip: Ensure to include all interested candidates into these drip campaigns, such as those who went to an event the company hosted or those who couldn't make it. This way, these candidates get another opportunity to engage with hiring managers when they’re ready.

fast casual hiring

In addition to using a mix of messaging methods in applicant re-engagement, employers should also consider these tips when getting started:

  • Deliver real value: Every reminder in a re-engagement campaign doesn’t have to end with the “Apply Now” call to action. Having candidates apply is the ultimate goal, but some re-engagement messaging should direct candidates to helpful resources and inspiring content, like a summary of company benefits or an employee story on social media. As a result, candidates may apply without even being prompted by an “Apply” CTA. 
  • Avoid being too aggressive: No one, even candidates, wants to be bombarded with so many emails and texts that it becomes annoying. Re-engagement communications should be frequent enough to be informational and build interest, but not so frequent that applicants unsubscribe. The goal is to promote the brand and open opportunities without making it feel forced.
  • Test different approaches: Use A/B testing to try different messaging approaches. Testing helps to pinpoint the content tone, length, and contact methods that resonate most with applicants and result in the highest applications. They should also test messaging to better understand what candidates are looking for, such as flexible scheduling and highlighting career pathing opportunities.

Tip: Recruitment marketing analytics leverage data from candidate re-engagement efforts to measure conversion and the ROI of each message sent. As a result, brands can target recruitment dollars only to the campaigns that yield consistent results.


Retargeting Tips for Hiring QSR Employees

Not everyone who visits a brand’s site or views social media applies. However, whether those individuals visited as part of their job search research (because they were considering applying or for another reason), they can apply a retargeting strategy to build their awareness and interest in QSR job opportunities. When employers take action tailored to engage with these individuals, it’s possible to convert them into viable job applicants.

The marketing “rule of 7” says consumers who see a product or service seven times are more likely to make a purchase. Applying this concept to prospective applicants is also an effective way of growing their awareness and interest in applying. The magic is not just in the number of times employers retarget prospective applicants, but the strategy and media channels used to attract those who haven’t yet hit “Apply.”

Retargeting allows QSR employers to craft ads that bring individuals back to the career page or job application. Employers can use a combination of social media, display networks, and Google advertising services to push job ads to individuals based on previous views and actions. One of the benefits of using these is that it helps companies get a better ROI for a company’s media budget. It’s like the “other products you may be interested in” of recruitment, with the goal of having users complete an application. 

Tip: Restaurant workers tend to be young – 59% of food preparation and counter workers are under the age of 25. As a result, running retargeting campaigns on social media platforms popular among young people is critical to successful QSR hiring.

quick service restaurant recruitment

A key benefit of retargeting is that it enables employers to reach prospective applicants with tailored content across multiple devices. Through the use of cookies, cross-device retargeting allows ads viewed on mobile to be remarketed on the desktop. Additionally, programmatic retargeting makes it possible to direct different ads and messaging to users based on previous company page views and actions. For example, users who click on a company page about benefits can receive different retargeting ads from users who already started to complete an application.

To operate retargeting campaigns successfully, QSR recruitment professionals should keep in mind the following tips:

  • Tailor ads to address specific hiring needs: The same retargeting campaigns may not need to run across the same locations or to the same users. In addition to serving different ads to site visitors vs. those who started an application, employers can also vary retargeting ads according to hiring needs and applicant supply in specific locations.
  • Continue to educate and inspire: Previous site visitors may still need some convincing before they are ready to submit an application. Therefore, ensure ads tell the employer brand story and provide multiple opportunities for individuals to learn more about the company, the culture, and why they would be happy working there. A great way to accomplish this is through engaging recruitment videos that help candidates learn about the restaurant’s people and culture.
  • Look for automation opportunities: Depending on the types of users that have visited the company site or started an application, several retargeting campaigns may run simultaneously. As a result, executing campaigns can make it tough to stay organized and manage ROI. For maximum efficiency, utilizing a marketing automation platform to keep track of all retargeting campaigns running across Facebook, Instagram, Google, Twitter, and other platforms is worthwhile. 

Tip: Retargeting campaigns offer QSR employers an opportunity to get creative. The Recruitics team can help craft eye-catching reminders that tell candidates, “We’re still hiring,” and “Finish your application.”


Overcome QSR Recruitment Challenges 

Recruiting for quick service restaurants has been challenging, but there are cost-effective ways for employers to beat the odds and use existing talent pools to drive more applications and hires. By adding re-engagement and retargeting strategies to the mix, QSR employers can make additional progress in meeting their hiring goals. 

For help building a successful QSR recruiting strategy,  Recruitics is here to help! The Recruitics team can provide strategic support and customized recruitment marketing solutions to help restaurant employers hire more effectively.

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